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Why We Love Recycled Diamonds and You Should Too

The timeless allure of vintage diamonds

Amongst smart and savvy diamond wholesalers, new product does not always come from a mine. Did you know that high quality diamonds can also be found in pawnshops? Capitalizing on the three d’s: death, debt, and divorce, pawnshops and other buy back companies can help the formerly amorous become less glamorous, quickly, in exchange for cash.

Diamond jewelry companies usually avoid the topic of recycled diamonds because it can introduce unappealing thoughts. But, there’s a 10% chance any diamond you buy as “new” belonged to another finger before yours. If the three D’s are a turn-off, consider a lab-grown diamond. It’s the only type of diamond you can buy that’s truly new. For the rest of you, consider the fact that natural diamonds are millions, often billions of years old. Recycled or not, new is relative.

Over the past few years, recycled diamonds have become a rapidly growing source of high quality stones that bypass the traditional supply chain of miners, subsidiaries, and licensees. An aging generation of baby boomers is cashing out of their carats at an increasing rate. That pool of stored wealth has opened up, and become a rapidly growing supply stream for the diamond industry. More recently, several new online companies have emerged to make the process of selling a diamond painless for consumers, like White Pines and Worthy. Companies, like us, purchase recycled diamonds and sell them alongside “new” ones.

If the thought of packing up your grandmother’s 2-carat ring and putting it in the mail makes you nervous, you’re not alone. But, with insured shipping, fair rates, and no haggling, it can be a much more pleasant option than a pawnshop.

WOULD YOU PUT THIS IN THE MAIL?

ARE RECYCLED DIAMONDS MORE AFFORDABLE?

The short answer is no. The long answer is still no, but it’s interesting why. Diamonds are commodities without a shelf life. Unlike a new car that loses a fair amount of its value as soon as you drive it off the dealership lot, you can’t really put miles on a diamond. That means whether it’s passed through ten hands, or it came out of the ground yesterday, the price will be determined by its weight and quality alone. There’s no depreciation.

If you’re buying recycled diamonds from a pawn shop or online auction, it is definitely possible to get a lower price. But, it comes with risks. You’re almost certainly buying uncertified diamonds, which means you need to have a gemologist’s expertise to evaluate the color, clarity, and be prepared to negotiate with confidence.

A pawn shop where you can purchase recycled diamonds.

If you’re buying recycled diamonds from a jewelry store, it’s not likely they’ll be priced any differently than more recently mined diamonds. Nine times out of ten, the jeweler will not even know they’re recycled. Once they’ve come back into the hands of a wholesaler, they’re often recut into a modern shape. After that, they’ll be re-certified and sold alongside new diamonds. They’re indistinguishable from new diamonds, and the prices will be the same. This happens so often that today it’s speculated that 1/10 diamonds sold new is recycled, but you’ll never know for sure.

RECYCLED DIAMONDS ARE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY

Diamond mining is inherently unsustainable. The earth has a finite supply of diamonds, and most major mines are already exhausted. It’s becoming increasingly expensive and challenging to extract diamonds from the earth, and it’s the source of much environmental damage. Buying a recycled diamond can be a great way to participate in the tradition of diamond engagement rings and wedding bands, without impacting the environment. Same shine, zero mines.

THERE’S MORE THAN ENOUGH TO GO AROUND

Today it’s speculated that the largest diamond mine on earth is dwarfed by what’s contained in safety deposit boxes and safes around the world. The estimates are teetering at over 1 trillion worth of diamonds. Recycled diamonds, also referred to as reclaimed, heirloom or vintage diamonds, can be a great way to give a new life to an antique cut that you’d never be able to find otherwise, or a classic round brilliant with some history behind it.

Recycled diamonds being stored in a safety deposit box at a bank.

RECYCLED DIAMONDS ARE RARE

Diamond cutters cut the majority of newly mined and lab-grown diamonds into round brilliants. Not only is this shape the most popular of all the diamond cuts, it fetches the best price per carat. 

For those of you looking for something a little less traditional, recycled diamonds often come in rare vintage cuts no longer on the market. If you’re lucky enough to find one before it’s recut into a round brilliant, you can own something much rarer than a conventional diamond, you can own a piece of history. Romantic, isn’t it?

Frank Darling strives to use 100% recycled diamonds for all pavé and small stone settings, because there’s plenty available and simply no need to mine more of them. Recycled center stones in both modern and vintage cuts are also available, and we couldn’t be happier to help you find one. Think a recycled diamond might be right for you? Book a consultation to learn more or browse our collection of low-profile, head-turning engagement rings made from 100% recycled gold and set with environmentally friendly diamonds.